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Research Results Show Citrus Greening-Tolerant Trees in Reach

Growing Produce – December 18, 2017

Based off a special block of grafted orange trees showcased during the recent 100th anniversary of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), there might be new hope the Florida citrus industry can withstand the citrus greening crisis.

University of Florida scientists and Tropicana are teaming up to test promising new UF/IFAS-bred varieties for citrus greening tolerance and better-tasting juice.

Tropicana leases 14.5 acres for testing new selections including UF/IFAS-developed citrus cultivars and rootstocks in a commercial grove about 4 miles from the CREC, according to Jude Grosser, a UF/IFAS Professor of horticultural sciences.

“This trial is providing strong evidence that the combination of improved scion genetics, improved rootstock genetics and optimized nutrition programs is the ticket for the immediate future,” Grosser stated.

For example, Grosser points to the combination of UF sweet orange ‘OLL-8’ cultivar on UFR-4 rootstock looks exceptional for both yield and tree health.

“These clones are a good immediate-term solution to help us until resistant clones are available,” he said. “We are continuing to screen rootstock hybrids for HLB tolerance that can be transmitted to a grafted scion. So far, we have screened more than 10,000 hybrids, and we have identified a few truly promising selections.”

Tropicana and UF/IFAS started their collaboration on the current project in June 2013.

“With our advice, Tropicana makes the final decisions on which scions and rootstocks are in the trial, and also the decisions on how to manage the trees,” Grosser explained. “We are currently working with Tropicana to develop a plan where we can work together to get good yield data this year.”

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